The Greens say Friday’s issuing of an arrest warrant for ‘bumbling Jihadi’ Mark Taylor proves there’s no need to widen the law’s definition of what a terrorist is.
Mark Taylor joined Islamic State in 2014, and has recently been in a Kurdish prison in northern Syria. His current whereabouts are unknown, following the escape of hundreds of Islamic State extremists amid the Turkish invasion of the region.
A warrant for his arrest was issued on Friday, meaning if he tries to come home – as he has indicated in the past he wants to do – he’ll be arrested at the border.
The warrant comes as Labour is looking to impose restrictions on New Zealanders returning from overseas conflict zones. The Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill would see fighters returning home put under electronic monitoring, having their internet access restricted and put into rehab.
But it also widens the definition of just who is a terrorist to include anyone convicted of related crimes anywhere in the world, or deported from a country for similar reasons, says Green MP Golriz Ghahraman.
“We know that in much of the world that could include environmental activists, feminists… the rainbow community,” she told Newshub Nation on Saturday.
“We have a tight definition of terror – it includes extremism, violence, and it explicitly excludes activism and things like that – so why not apply that?”
The Greens aren’t backing Justice Minister Andrew Little’s Bill as it stands. Nor are National, but for the opposite reason – they don’t think it goes far enough, and want it to apply to children as young as 14.
“The National Party proposals are a huge knee-jerk reaction and show a lack of understanding of criminal law, because they’ve included things that are already in the law,” said Ghahraman.
Her view is backed up by Amnesty International.
“The fact that this process is outside of the criminal trial process is really problematic – you don’t have the same safeguards that you do in a criminal trial process on, you know, proving charges,” policy manager Annaliese Johnston told Newshub.
Johnston, like Ghahraman, says overseas information could be inaccurate.
“You can be convicted for terrorism on the basis of speaking up for human rights in Turkey. So if you’re going to be using information from that regime, we don’t know how that information has been gathered.”
Ghahraman said that’s what happened in the case of Ahmed Zaoui, who was imprisoned on his arrival in New Zealand after fleeing Algeria.
“I remember Ahmed Zaoui being captured under previous national security legislation, and he was just an opposition politician in Algeria.”
Police will have to seek permission from the High Court to apply control orders on those targeted by the legislation, but Ghahraman says that’s not much of a safeguard.
“Our own security agencies aren’t free from prejudice, so… let’s make sure people’s human rights are protected.”
National said it would vote for the Bill in its first reading so it can go to select committee for further fine-tuning.
“The Government needs National to pass this legislation and we will work with them in good faith but there are changes we need to see,” said leader Simon Bridges.
Taylor earner the ‘bumbling’ tag after accidentally revealing the location of a secret Islamic State location on Twitter.